The average number of emergency room patients waiting for a hospital bed in Red Deer has dropped about 50 per cent since last fall, according to Alberta Health Services.
AHS implemented an overcapacity plan in December to reduce emergency department wait times.
When the plan is triggered at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, patients who can be discharged are moved to lounge chairs and eight existing beds so emergency patients can take their beds.
If no one is ready for discharge, existing patients could be moved to a nearby hospital or a hospital in their home community, or a long-term care facility.
Home care support would also be considered so the patient can return home.
Friends of Medicare warns the capacity problem in Alberta’s public health system has not been solved.
“It’s not a solution really. These protocols simply move people from emergency room hallways and corridors to hospital ward hallways and corridors. It doesn’t solve the problem of capacity, which is the real problem in Red Deer and all across the province,” said executive director David Eggen.
“You need the long-term care beds for people when they’re discharged from hospital. If you don’t build new ones, then you’re short (of beds). It’s as simple as that.”
In February, an average of five emergency patients each morning were waiting for an acute care bed at the Red Deer hospital, compared to 10 in September and 12 in October.
The average dropped to six in November and has held steady at five since December.
On Dec. 20, AHS implemented the overcapacity plan to reduce wait-times to under eight hours for emergency patients who need acute care beds, and those who haven’t been admitted to be treated and released within four hours.
To trigger the plan, five patients at one time need to be waiting for acute care beds for longer than eight hours and there has to be no beds left in emergency to treat those critically ill or injured.
Other triggers are when the percentage of patients in emergency exceeds 110 per cent; more than 35 per cent of emergency department care spaces are blocked due to patients awaiting admission, diagnostics or consults; no emergency department space is available for new urgent patients; acute care hospital beds are all occupied; and EMS resources are strained and could affect response times.